By 90Min
March 08, 2018

Tottenham crashed out of the Champions League at the hands of Juventus on Thursday thanks to second half goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala, but most of the plaudits went the way of veteran centre-half Giorgio Chiellini - and rightly so.

He may have had a shaky first half an hour against arguably world football's hottest striker at the moment in Harry Kane at Wembley, but the 33-year-old recovered outstandingly from there to utterly back pocket the England striker for the second half.

On a night where emotions were running high for both sides after the tragic Davide Astori news, it was a performance that had just about everything from his former teammate and friend Chiellini.

Michael Regan/GettyImages

Heart, resilience, intelligence and determination. He displayed it all, and as someone who has yearned for him to get his due credit down the years, it was a mixture of both joy and relief to read the post-match adulation for this exceptional player.

Unbelievably, Chiellini goes under the radar when the topic of 'Europe's best centre-half' is open for discussion but the fact of the matter is, the Italian has displayed the aforementioned attributes consistently throughout his playing career and at the highest possible level, too.

Last season, people were lauding Leonardo Bonucci as the top player in his position. The flashier, younger, ball-playing centre-half was the talk of the town with his superb control and raking long passes, while his teammate Chiellini was quite content operating in his shadow, but getting on with the job at hand. That shadow was created by the media - Chiellini was just as brilliant in that Juve back three, with Andrea Barzagli not far off the pair.


The six-time Scudetto winner has been acknowledged occasionally throughout his time with Juventus - winning their Player of the Year gong in 2009, being voted the league's Defender of the Season for three years running between 2008 and 10, and earning a place in the Team of the Season in the 2012/13, 2014/15 and 2015/16 campaigns.

In his younger days he was tremendous but Chiellini is the very definition of a 'fine wine' footballer, and is continuing to get better despite his advancing years. 13 seasons after arriving in Turin, the man still plays every game with unrivalled love for the art of defending, which is arguably what has enabled him to succeed for so long.

You can see every time he takes to the field just what raw defending means to him - his sensational interception to deny Kane a certain equaliser at Wembley, followed by the celebration with goalkeeper Gigi Buffon just made you - Spurs fans aside of course - stand back and applaud. To him, that's scoring a 30-yard thunderbolt into the top corner.

Chiellini's passion for defending actually reminds you how good it can be to watch - let's face it, the main things people want to see in any football match are goals being scored or attacking flair players weaving in and out of opposing players down the wing.

His mastery of his craft in its purest form is why he should be considered Europe's best centre-half. Names such as Bonucci, Sergio Ramos and Mats Hummels are often served up in these kinds of discussions, but none of those guys execute the combination of rugged and intelligent defending quite like Chiellini does.


Simply put, they just don't really make them like him any more. Today it's all about centre-halves that have a turn of pace, centre-halves that can pick 50-yard passes, and centre halves that can carry the ball elegantly and decisively to break the lines. While these are traits that do set individuals apart from other players, they arguably do not suggest these players as being the best 'defenders' in the truest sense of the word.

Chiellini has shown for years now that he is the absolute embodiment of defending. There is no one better that him when it comes to the sheer backs-to-the-wall stuff, and it's about time people recognised him for his one-of-a-kind ability.

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